Wine Drinkers Call For An End To Gender Bias On Alcohol Duty

Television celebrity Kate Thornton ‘baffled’ by bias against women in tax policy

Television celebrity Kate Thornton has joined a call for the Chancellor Rishi Sunak to stop penalising women for preferring wine over beer. In the last ten years tax on wine, the most popular alcoholic drink among women in the UK, has risen more than twice as fast as tax on beer which is preferred by men. Since 2010, it is estimated wine drinkers paid £4.6 billion more in duty than beer drinkers.

A YouGov survey for Wine Drinkers UK, a collection of leading wine lovers, makers and sellers found 43% of women drinkers listed wine as their favourite alcoholic drink with only 7% listing beer. For men the order is reversed with 44% of drinkers listed beer as their favourite drink compared to 21% who said wine.

Women are also more likely to order wine in a restaurant with 58% of women who drink alcohol saying they are most likely to order wine or sparkling wine. In comparison 47% of men who drink alcohol said they would order beer in a restaurant.

Duty on wine has increased by 39% since 2010 compared to a rise of just 16% for beer. Following these increases, more duty is paid on a typical serving of wine than any other alcoholic drink, with duty making up 52p of an average 175ml glass of wine, compared to 43p for a pint of beer. As well as duty, alcoholic drinks are also subject to standard VAT of an additional 20%.

Television presenter Kate Thornton, who also hosts the White Wine Question Time podcast says: “Surely wine should be treated the same way as beer and spirits when it comes to tax? I’m baffled as to why it is singled out as an outlier that is open to higher taxes. And when you consider that women are more likely to drink wine than men and increase in duty will hit women the hardest.”

Wine writer and broadcaster, Helena Nicklin says: “Politicians have repeatedly fallen into the trap of cutting beer duty to score points with the average ‘working man’, which is unfair. Wine duty has doubled since 2000 and there hasn’t been a cut since 1984. The unavoidable fact is that women are more likely to drink wine and if the Chancellor Rishi Sunak increases wine duty it will unfairly impact women more than men.”

The YouGov survey of more than 1,800 respondents across the UK found one in three (32%) of UK adults who drink alcohol say wine is their favourite alcoholic drink, beating beer (25%) and spirits (25%) into second and third place respectively. However, only 4% of people surveyed correctly guessed the level of tax on a £5 bottle of wine is 61% (83p on VAT and £2.23 on Duty).

The last cut in duty on wine was in 1984 when Nigel Lawson was Chancellor under Margaret Thatcher.

Wine Drinkers UK is calling on the Chancellor to cut excise duty on wine and to extend the temporary hospitality VAT cut introduced last year to March 2022, and to broaden it to include sales of alcoholic drinks in next week’s March 2021 Budget.